Archive for the ‘Individuation’ category

Donald Kalsched: on …”When the relational environment … fails … to provide “good enough” attunement and empathic responsiveness for the growing baby”

November 9, 2021

It has been a while since I’ve posted any of my musings! Here is one more source quote with a few very important ideas and conceptualizations. Enjoy.

“Object-relations theory and interpersonal theory provide the best understanding of how trauma develops but, missing a grasp of the self-curative capacities of the psyche’s inner world, they do not adequately envision the healing of trauma that comes about through other than personal resources. The self-care system comes about as a result of acute or chronic failure by the relational environment to provide “good enough” attunement and empathic responsiveness for the growing baby. Trauma occurs when this “failure” falls outside what Winnicott calls the “area of omnipotence,” by which he means experience the baby can make sense of or “metabolize” within its own tolerance-limits or its own nascent symbolic capacity. Events that fall outside this area are “unbearable” or “unspeakable” and constitute nothing short of “madness,” by which Winnicott means literally a “breakdown” of infancy that cannot be remembered and around which the growing child (with the aid of primitive defenses) must erect a false self, like a tree growing around an absent center hollowed out by a lightning strike.

This sobering and compelling story about the effects of early trauma represents a partial truth, but it is not the whole story. There is something essential that Winnicott leaves out of his completely interpersonal metapsychology, namely, the “nonhuman environment” outwardly (Searles, 1960), and the “prehuman environment” inwardly, in other words, the archetypal layer of the psyche (Jung). The child is not just in relationship to the mother, but to the “world” beyond and the “world” within—poised, as it were, between two great, beautiful and terrible mysteries. It is the mother’s job to help mediate these Titanic realities. Without the mother’s “good enough” mediation, the child will be exposed to these inner and outer beauties/terrors and this will inevitably lead to traumatic symptoms in relationship, for example, unresolved omnipotence and grandiosity, insecure/disorganized attachment, and so forth.

But the child will not necessarily be “mad.” The Self Care System (SCS) will come to its rescue, and this system will recruit the archetypal powers of inner and outer Nature in its “effort” to save the child’s spirit – its core of health. The many myths that retell the story of children being abandoned and exposed but rescued by transpersonal powers or wild animals record the “saving” miracle by the SCS (Otto Rank). True, without an adequate human relationship to mediate “psyche and the world” the traumatized child will have life-long difficulties in intimacy with others. Born of broken attachment bonds, its SCS will not allow it to trust a process of reattachment with others for fear of retraumatization. But the self that grows around these limitations will not necessarily be a “false” self and may in fact be more creative than mad, perhaps with a rich inner world, a privileged access to “non-ordinary reality,” a deep cultural life, and a huge passion for a capacity for life. In the language of Jerome Bernstein, these individuals will occupy a “Borderland” between the worlds rather than be “Borderline” personality disorders (Bernstein, 2005).”

“Working with Trauma in Analysis,” by Donald E. Kalsched, PP. 281-295, from Jungian Psychoanalysis: Working In The Spirit of C.G. Jung, Edited by Murray Stein

Torment and Atonement?

April 14, 2021

We have so much going on right now in the world, and, we are all vulnerable to getting triggered, or from a trauma complex perspective, activated. I wanted to bring forward a couple of paragraphs from a source quote which may answer some questions we have not consciously formulated. My source quotes collection, see bottom right of page, are simply some of my favorite quotes, without anything from me. Enjoy!

From Images of the Journey in Dante’s Divine Comedy, Charles H. Taylor & Patricia Finley, 1997

“On Torment and Atonement – Two kinds of suffering: (pp. 158-160)

“There is profound psychological meaning in the sometimes excruciating pain of purgatorial suffering: the crushing stones borne by the proud, the choking smoke enveloping the wrathful, the fire hotter than molten glass searing the lustful. Those who are saved are not sinless – far from it. Rather, they are those who have come in time to know and take responsibility for the shadow qualities that split their personalities and cause them to act destructively toward themselves and others.

The secret of salvation in Dante’s world … is insight into the nature of who one is, how one injures, what it feels like to be oneself the victim and to make others the targets of one’s desirousness, rage, pride, and deceits. Those who make it to Purgatory are not less shadow-driven, narcissistic, obsessed, or pathological than others, but they have not refused to make conscious what they are, to bear the burden of themselves, and to come in time to take full responsibility for their own natures. By coming to know what operates in us behind appearances, whether driven by unconscious instinct and aggression or by more deliberate betrayals we can choose to take a stand against whatever in our personal character moves us to wound others and our larger selves.

Atonement, the poet says in many ways takes time; the passage of time is central to the work of purgation. … It is psychologically true that a new level of self-awareness can be achieved only with sustained effort over an extended time, but how much time depends in part… on the attitude of those who are central in our lives. Taken objectively, this expresses the reality that the caring concern of those who love us can accelerate our growth and act as a catalyst for inner healing. Taken subjectively – in terms of what we can do for ourselves – prayerful engagement by the ego with the inner figures of parent, beloved, or child, as a means of reaching out to the larger powers that seek our development, often moves the process more swiftly.”

Ichsucht (“ego addiction”) A Source Quote from Elie Humbert: On Ego, Self, and the Individuation Process

September 10, 2020

Below is a lengthy and interesting formulation on narcissism from an ego problem in need of a solution perspective.

“Narcissus directly experienced an insatiable quest for the self and acute anguish in the face of everything that threatened his self-image. Jung took up Narcissus’ subjective experience and discovered the Ichhaftigkeit (“ego attachment”) within which the subject is caught. This internal force seeks the constitution of an ego complex around which it wants all of psychic life to revolve. Before the ego differentiates itself by relating to the unconscious, it is in a state of Ichsucht (“ego addiction”) (C.W. 14, par. 364), a turning of consciousness upon itself. The danger then is that the image of the world and the image of the ego risk becoming confused with one another.

Ichhaftigkeit (C.W. 11, par. 554) might well dominate the individual psyche if its own one-sidedness did not give birth to the shadow, which becomes in turn an independent complex opposed to the ego. The ascendancy of the shadow (of which the return of the repressed is but one aspect) overturns the organization of the ego. Jung analyzed the transformation process that then begins. Rather than focusing upon narcissism, he studied the conflicts, sacrifices, and mutations that mark the successive moments of the subject’s formation.

Jung insisted on the fact that becoming conscious puts the ego in jeopardy. A 1941 text reflects what he himself had lived through thirty years earlier:

The integration of the contents split off in the parental imagos has an activating effect on the unconscious, for these imagos are charged with all the energy they originally possessed in childhood, thanks to which they continued to exercise a fateful influence even on the adult. Isolation in pure ego-consciousness has the paradoxical consequence that there now appear in dreams and fantasies personal, collective contents which are the very material from which certain schizophrenic psychoses are constructed. (C.W. 16, par. 218)

Even while it endures such an ordeal, the ego cannot escape from an inflation, be it a negative or positive one. While relating to its own solitude and to the psychic elements it integrates, the ego either allows itself to become possessed by an upsurge of psychic energy or defends itself from this energy by identifying with its own conscious boundaries. Is there no way to avoid these two false solutions?

But at this point a healthful, compensatory operation comes into play which each time seems to me like a miracle. Struggling against that dangerous trend towards disintegration, there arises out of this same collective unconscious a counteraction, characterized by symbols which point unmistakably to a process of centering. This process creates nothing less than a new center of personality, which the symbols show from the first to be superordinate to the ego …The center cannot be classed with the ego, but must be accorded a higher value… for which reason I have called it the “self.” …the experience of the self has nothing to do with intellectualism; it is a vital happening which brings about a fundamental transformation of personality. I have called the process that leads to this experience the “process of individuation.” (C.W. 16, par. 219)

Thus by becoming conscious and by withdrawing projections, the ego is led into a state of either inflation or deflation. Neither of these states is resolved unless an unconscious center of the personality to which the ego can relate is brought to life.

…Influenced as he was by alchemy, Jung focused less upon images and more upon processes. The conjunction of opposites, with all that it implies of separation and differentiation, provides the schema with which one can understand the activity of the Self. Jung summarized this activity using three concepts: (1) becoming follows upon a compensatory movement; (2) wholeness consists of the relationship of consciousness with the unconscious; (3) psychic organization evolves according to the law of differentiation.

When referring to the concept of wholeness, which Jung used frequently, one must recall that the English word totality obscures the original German meaning. Jung rarely used die totalitat but almost always die Ganzheit (ganz, ganzwerden). Now the root prefix ganz does not signify “total” but “whole.” It would be better to translate Ganzheit by the English “wholeness.” Far from aiming to become, possess or experience everything, the Ganzheit is correlative to the experiences of dissociation and fragmentation. Jung specified that Ganzheit is not a Volkommenheit, not “a total achievement, perfection.” To individuals who feel the presence of two beings within themselves, Ganzheit appears as a possible unity. It is in the sense of a possible unity that the experience of the Self resolves the dissociation of consciousness from the unconscious and allows the subject to be whole.

…the Self is the true center of the personality from which the ego, by its goals and values, is alienated. Thus the ego must sacrifice its values and goals if it is to submit to the orientation of the Self. This sacrifice is brought about by the recognition of the shadow, and will have the characteristics of what some will later call a symbolic castration. Sacrifice differs from symbolic castration, however, because sacrifice does not culminate in the mere acceptance of human limitations and death but leads to a living relationship with the unconscious subject.

…What is at stake in the analytic process is not the death of the ego but the sacrifice of Ichhaftigkeit (“ego attachment”). Not only does the ego not disappear, but the conflicts that it goes through release it from imaginary states and allow it to come to its own reality.”

Excerpted from Humbert, Elie, C.G. Jung: The Fundamentals of Theory and Practice, Chiron Press, 1988, pp. 61-64.

1994 Dream: Rites of Passage and the Rock-Light Being

March 22, 2016

EncounteringRLBeingImage2.3.23.16

The following two part dream was a big dream for me, one of a series of dreams during my early years with the mytho-poetic men’s community; during this period I attending many weekend and week long workshops with Robert Bly, Micheal Meade, James Hillman, Robert Moore, and Malidoma Some among others. Locally, a ragtag band of us dedicated ourselves to exploring first hand what we could learn about midlife initiatory ritual process through an evolving collective and personal story enactment model. The dream:

“I am at a grand competition of some kind, like a graduation rite, with lots of people cheering on those who have achieved their goal; the ritual consisted of the graduate first throwing a small ball out as far as he could, and then running as fast as he could to bring it back. This was an individual act, with no attention paid to the time or comparisons with anyone else. Sending him out and welcoming him back, the crowd simply roared in celebration of his achievement, reflected in his level of clarity and intention. This was most impressive, an honor and joy to behold, and the enactment enabled all to witness. I didn’t know how the game worked but his throw was so compelling that I elected to go running after the ball also; Coming from the side of the field, he had thrown it down field in my direction, I dived over and behind a large bolder in pursuit of it, and then heard an urgent warning: “Get ready because he surely is coming after it. It means a great deal to him.” The implication is that his force could unintentionally kill me if I were in his path.

Part 2: Then the scene switched to three of us, two men guided by a woman, working our way up a rocky terrain stream-bed like path. I am in the middle. It’s quite dark and there is a strong sense of wilderness, adventure. We get to a rocky rise and our guide stopped suddenly, pointing to a watery place contained by the stone to a set of large eyes watching us. An archaic archetypal crocodile, huge, was perfectly lined up on us; should we have continued up and over we would have been eaten. She motioned us to move sideways and we looked for a way up while watching for more crocodiles. I saw another one and couldn’t find an easy way up. Calling to her, she had gone up and was out of sight, she doubled back and offered a hand, pulling me up near by, saying “this old VW bus windshield comes in handy.” Working our way along the trail next to a vertical rock face, I got into the lead. As we walked along in darkness a door suddenly flew open, right in front of me, letting a flood of bright yellow light out; with it, I saw something was tossed out; then the door closed just as quickly, leaving no trace. At first I felt anxious about almost being hit or seen, then I was curious about who or what lived in the rock, and what had been thrown out? I sensed some indigenous peoples must be living there secretly.” Pausing, the alarm went off.

REFLECTIONS: At the time of this dream I was wrestling with my awareness that while I felt very serious about my personal analysis, more attention and focus was possible. In the opening celebratory ritual process scene, I noticed my dream ego was identified more with the witness who  jumped into the ritual action from the sidelines, in contrast to the dream figure  who has done the work and is moving into the new life with community blessing. In reality, I was at the time deeply engaged in working through my own childhood near death, initiatory life event with the help of a band of spirit/soul brothers.

In active imagination, I re-entered the second scene, hoping to dream-the-dream-onward and discover more about the origins of the rock dweller and the meaning of the tossed out object. I dialogued with an ancient reptile man-like being, a self identified gatekeeper and light tender who releases the light. In response to my question, “What did you throw out?” he replied they were shards of light, reflections of everything that has ever happened in my (Chuck’s) life. Each shard mirrored a scene of my life. I was to know they existed and seek to gather them all up; this was my path to self-knowledge. Considering the flash of light as an image of enlightenment, the Self shining through, I interpreted this as signaling the importance of doing the work to remember everything fully. The shards would provide every detail in turn.

Source Quotes: Dreams as Portal to the Source (Eward Whitmont and Sylvia Pereira)

November 9, 2014

Here are a number of selected quotes from a very wonderful offering by Whitmont and Pereira:

P. 2: Quotes: “the dream itself is an actual and necessary expression of the life force– One that manifests in sleeping consciousness and is sometimes remembered and re counted across the threshold of waking. Like a flower or a hurricane or a human gesture, its basic purpose is the manifestation in expression of this life force. It gives us images of energy, synthesizing past and present, personal and collective experiences.” (Page 2)

P. 3. “To approach dream interpretation adequately we need to find perspectives beyond those created by dualistic consciousness, which rest content with oppositions–exterior/interior, object/subject, day/night, life/death, functional – descriptive/imaginal, focused attention/openness, etc. While these opposites are valuable for defining rational awareness, we need also to develop an integrated consciousness that can read both daily and nightly actions and events and nightly and daily visions from many perspectives and to integrate these perspectives for our selves and the patient–dreamer before us in our consulting rooms. This capacity relies on an ability to shift between the many forms of magic– affective, body, mythological, allegoric, symbolic, and rational awareness.

 P. 5: “The clinical understanding of dreams requires both art and skill. The art consists of an ability to sense the dream as a multifaceted dramatic presentation, as if one were allowed to witness a scene from the play of life. The performance would require attendance with full respect, empathy, sensitive intelligence, intuition, and a sense of symbolic expression.”

P. 6: “…  the skills acquired through the practice of techniques must always be subject to the art of interpretation. The first ‘rule’, then, is the paradox of all the healing arts: the applicability of basic principles must be determined by feeling, sensitivity, and intuition.”

P. 6: “as expressions of pre-rational, ‘altered’ states of consciousness, dreams are as variable as nature itself. Indeed they are a lusus naturae, a play of nature that can never be fitted into rigid systems. Rather, our rational thought capacity has to learn to adapt itself to the Protean variability of the life processes which dreams represent. Rational or ‘secondary’ thought must learn to adapt itself to the feeling tones and images of the dream, in reverie and to play intuitively, as seriously as a musician does with a sonata, until meanings emerge.”

P. 7: “…  in clinical practice each dream offers diagnosis, prognosis, and appropriate material and timing to address the dreamers current psychological reality and to address and compensate the dreamer’s– and/or analyst’s – blind spots of consciousness. Diagnostically, the dream’s images and structure give evidence of ego strength and may reveal qualities of relationship between various forms of consciousness and the psychological and somatic unconscious. Prognostically, the dream calls attention to what confronts consciousness, as well as to likely clinical developments, and often, to how the present awareness and capacities of the dreamer and/or analyst tend to relate to those confrontations. … The psychological reality and blind spots of consciousness are addressed because every dream points to an unconscious complex and to the archetypal dynamism behind the complex’s emotionally charged layers.”

P. 8: “Not only does the dream inevitably address the dreamer’s and analyst’s blind spots, it also… is ‘an answer in hieroglyphics to the question we would pose.’ …  The dreamer is invariably unable to see those blind spots or to realize the nature of the ‘question’ he or she needs to ‘pose.’ Too often the dreamer identifies only with the dream ego’s perspective and it’s emotional responses to the images presented.

…  Dream work, thus, requires a witness, someone to provide a perspective coming from other than the dreamer’s context, with whom the dream can initially be encountered.”

P. 9: “But even at best, and even among experienced therapist themselves, dream work needs dialogue with another person. In spite of extensive experience with dreams, such collegial checking and confrontation usually reveals essential details and personal applications that were overlooked. The saying popular among doctors, ‘the doctor who treats himself has a fool for a physician,’ applies here, for the dream brings us unconscious dynamics, and we cannot, by definition, be aware of them easily.

P. 11: “Musing on the contents of the person’s ‘own’ dreams with an empathic other, associating to them, grounding specific dream images in analogous events and patterns of daily life, finding objective explanations, sharing reactions–all provide method and material to build the safe enough therapeutic relationship in which, eventually, genuine affects and individuality can come forth. Repeatedly, such dream work brings about a sense of valuable individual contents and of awareness of capacity to deal with images. Over time such mutual activity assists greatly in conveying and developing a sense of fluid and merged, yet constant and separate, identity – a felt individuality for which play and symbolic understanding is both possible and pleasurable.”

P. 12: “Knowing immediately what a dream purports to mean rest usually on a projection of the therapist’s own bias or countertransference, rather than on genuine, and often necessarily mutual, understanding. Like all utterances from the ‘other side’, the dream tends to be multi-leveled and oracular, hence ambivalent (even polyvalent) and resistant to a rational, black– white, simplistic approach.”

P. 14: “… the therapist must revere the dream’s image material carefully in it’s context and with open puzzlement until a corresponding associative affect–response emerges from the dreamer. …  Jung’s warning: ‘The analyst who wishes to rule out conscious suggestion [must] consider every dream interpretation invalid until such time as a formula is found which wins the patients assent.” … If assent is to be reliable, it must come from what might be called an embodied or gut sense of ‘Aha!’ ‘Yes!’ ‘Touché.’ This kinesthetic validation presents a deep confirmation from ‘the Self in the body’ which knows even when the conscious ‘I’ cannot. Unless this response is forthcoming, the analyst’s views of the meaning of a dream can only be considered hypothetical possibilities still awaiting confirmation or disavowal from the Self of the dreamer. Inevitably, too, the following dreams will confirm, modify, or challenge an interpretation and the dreamer’s understanding of the dream.”

P. 17: “The dream is a spontaneous self portrayal, symbolic form, the actual situation in the unconscious.” Jung

“In each of us there is another whom we do not know. He speaks to us in dreams and tells us how differently he sees us from the way we see ourselves. When, therefore, we find ourselves in a difficult situation to which there is no solution, he can sometimes kindle a light that radically alters our attitude. (Jung)

Jung called the dream ‘a highly objective, natural product of the Psyche…  [a] self representation of the psychic life– process. …  The dream compensates or compliments a deficiency of the dreamer’s conscious position; And/or of the therapist’s position with regards to the dreamer or the analysis.”

Page 18: “… to differentiate Jung’s postulated Self from the self concept psychoanalysis… we shall capitalize it and referred to it as Guiding Self…. It is also to be viewed as the source and director of the individuation drive, that archetypal urge to ‘become what one is’. It is also to be viewed as the source and director of life events and of dream material, both providing invaluable metaphoric/allegoric and symbolic messages which aid the individuation process to those who learn to read them.

The Dream ego may represent: the dreamer’s actual and felt sense of identity as observing witness or actor.

Appears as the Guiding Self sees her or him.

The dream may point up the Self’s view of the dreamer’s identification (merger) with an ego-ideal or an inflated grandiosity.

P. 22: “Developmental possibilities through Dream Work

The dreams dramatic outcome, then, is to be considered conditional: given the situation as it is now (namely, the setting or exposition of the dream, to be discussed below), this or that is likely to develop. … nothing in a dream outcome, therefore, is to be regarded as fixed or unalterable; unless it is explicitly shown to be so by the terms of the dramatic structure of the dream itself and by the symbolic or allegoric tenor of the images.”

P. 24: “Rarely, if ever, will the dream tell the waking ego what to do. Even when a problem is solved in the dream this shows only a possibility that is available. The dream shows what psychological realities the dreamer is up against, what happens to work for or against his current attitude and position, and what the effects of that position or particular approach are likely to be. It leaves the matter to the dreamer to draw his or her own conclusion, to make decisions, and to act. In this way an ongoing dialectic occurs between conscious and unconscious dynamics. For better and/or worse, conscious freedom of response is respected and preserved.

The ‘situation as it is,’ seen from the perspective of the Guiding Self, includes both inner developmental potentials and trends, as well as the consequences inherent in the dreamer’s current, ‘just so’ psychological situation.”

P. 119: “dream series

Until now, we have been dealing with single dreams. However, there is a continuity, we might almost say, an extended story, as dreams unfold sequentially as part of a steadily evolving series. They tend to tell a running narrative, which feeds the conscious ego the kind of information it requires and is able to assimilate, given its particular position in the developmental process. As consciousness takes in response to the dream’s messages, the dreams again respond to the newly gained positions of consciousness; thus a dialectical play develops. When it is a matter of vitally important or fundamental life issues and consciousness does not respond adequately to assimilate the message, dreams will recur. Sometimes they repeat in the same form; sometimes the images become more numerous, larger, or threatening. These kind of recurrent dream series may even lead to nightmares. Such nightmares and recurring dreams – and particularly those that have been recurring since childhood – deserve urgent attention.

… When a dream journal is kept, one gets the impression of an unfolding continuum of views, and of a seeming intentionality in the selection of themes for each given moment.

Indeed, in the instance of a specific, organic symbol, birth in dreams can usually be seen to refer back to a process seeded some nine months before. Or the age of a dream figure will refer to some energy that was ‘born’ those many years before. But more than that, it is as though dream number six in October knew what dream number twenty-nine in April was going to raise and was preparing the dreamer with preliminary insights. Subsequent dreams quite often, therefore, need to be considered in the light of preceding ones, that might have dealt with the same or similar subject matter. A central theme or themes are developed in sequence overtime. Often, one cannot avoid the impression that the series operates as though the unconscious could ‘anticipate . . . future conscious achievements,’ no less than future unconscious dilemmas, for an early dream seems already to know or plan what a later dream is to pick up and carry further. This is an aspect of what Jung called the ‘prospective function’ of dreams.

Usually, such an elaboration occurs not a linear progression but rather like a circular or spiral movement around a central thematic core, casting light upon the central theme from, what might be considered, different psychological angles. It is as though dream one raises a theme; dream two raises a seemingly different one; dream three presents again another angle and so forth; while dream 12 may perhaps pick up on one, and 14 may link up what was raised by three and 12 – or whatever. This circumambulation of the dreamer psyche field bus repeatedly brings up crucial complexes, and elaborates on them, building on previous consequences. Gradually a sense of wholeness pattern adults to the process of being shown the various aspects of the themes, presented with all their very nations from a variety of viewpoints. And keeping up with the images of the dream series, one can keep up with the life– And the individuation process.”

see: Dreams, A Portal to the Source, by Whitemont, Edward, and Pereira, Sylvia, 1992.